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The information below is intended to provide answers to questions that come up regularly. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide and it has limited applicability. Please read the countries introduction to ensure that it is appropriate to you. The standard documentation a UK flagged pleasure vessel operating outside UK Territorial Waters should carry is detailed on the paperwork page.

UK Government travel advice

FCDO advice including information on permitted duration of stay and visas for Portugal:

Evidence of competence

For information on the validity of RYA certificates abroad see Evidence of Competence Abroad.

Evidence of competence is required.

The Portuguese legislation requires that the skipper of a recreational vessel is in possession of a licence (with the exception of recreational craft with a length of less than 5 metres and less than 4.5KW power which are navigating by day and within a port). The legislation also sets out the terms by which equivalent documents issued by authorities from European Union (EU) countries are automatically recognised in Portugal. Non-compliance can result in a fine ranging from €250 - €2500.

Portugal has not adopted Resolution 40 but for a UK flagged boat an ICC (valid for the vessel concerned) is generally acceptable and is recommended.

Portuguese translations of many RYA certificates and their related course syllabus are available from the RYA website.

Standard entry and exit formalities

EU member state (part of the customs territory of the EU (which includes territorial waters)).  Further information is provided on the Entry & Exit Formalities page under Customs - EU Member States.

Part of the Schengen area.

As part of the customs territory of the EU (which includes territorial waters) and the Schengen area customs and immigration checks may not always be required on arrival and departure.

Portuguese equipment legislation and UK flagged boats

In 2011 and 2012 the RYA looked into reports from UK flagged vessels which indicated that Portuguese domestic regulations were being applied to visiting foreign flagged boats.

In January 2013 the RYA obtained legal advice on how the Portuguese legislation applies to UK-flagged vessels, including details of the equipment required, possible fines for non-compliance, manning requirements and information on taxes. The RYA was advised that the Portuguese requirements for safety equipment can be applied to boats from other EU countries visiting Portugal (except boats that are on innocent passage in accordance with UNCLOS).

The Director General of the Autoridade Marítima also confirmed that EU flagged boats were treated as national within the Portuguese legislation and that was why the Maritime Police and the Portuguese Navy had been conducting safety inspections on EU flagged boats in line with the requirements that apply to Portuguese registered pleasure boats. 

Following communication with the RYA, however, the Director General recognised the difficulties this presented for non-Portuguese flagged boats. The matter was discussed between the Maritime Authority (Captain of the Port and Maritime Police responsible for the law enforcement) and the Maritime Administration (DGRM, responsible for law making) and the result was a policy decision that for pleasure craft not engaged in any locally based commercial activity like boat rentals, cruises, fishing or diving (for which special rules and licensing apply), Portuguese rules should only apply to vessels that stay for longer than a total of 180 days in a 365 day period.

They did however advise us of this decision with the caveat:

Regardless of this clarification and of the different flag rules that may apply to boats visiting, it is undisputable that safety must always be on every mariners mind and the Portuguese Maritime Authority strongly recommends that all boats carry on-board the appropriate safety equipment.

Since this communication we have not received reports of further difficulties.  We do hear of inspections, with fire extinguishers being of particular interest.

For longer stays, information published by a local group in Lagos on the regulations for Portuguese flagged vessels may be of interest.


Third party liability insurance is required for all motor yachts (including motor sailors) and sailing yachts over 7 metres. Check the minimum level of cover required with your insurer.

Evidence of the status of Union Goods

Portugal is known for requesting a T2L in addition to a VAT invoice to evidence the EU customs status of Union Goods, particularly if visiting the area under the jurisdiction of the Faro customs authority. For more information see the Evidence of Union Status paragraph on the Entry and Exit Formalities page.

Other guidance

The Taxa de Farolagem e Balizagem (light dues fee) applies to national boats and foreign flagged vessels.

A government tax similar to car tax, applies to national boats and foreign flagged vessels staying in a marina or harbour for more than 183 days in a year.  Details of the tax have been investigated by a local group in Lagos and their findings have been published on their website. The RYA has not verified the information they have published and urge boat owners keeping their boat in Portugal to confirm their personal situation with the local tax office.

A licence may be required for recreational fishing in Portuguese waters.


Incidents involving Orcas (Killer Whales) and recreational boats continue along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. Find out more

Signals for port closures

A member has asked us to advise people intending to visit ports in Portugal to be aware of the signals for port closures on the Portuguese coast.  A black cylinder by day and all round green over red over green by night indicate that a port is closed as detailed in the Reeds Nautical Almanac.  Closures may also be advised by radio or on NAVTEX.


Lagos Navigators: 

Instituto Portugues Do Mare Da Atmosfera: